Creative visualization techniques to improve reading and thinking
Why do we read? Why do we want to learn something? When answering these or any other important questions we tend to have an image in our head that relates to the benefits of an activity or the future state of a current situation. We visualize how things should be or in regards to reading convert words into images. Below are 5 creative techniques to learn how to visualize, and to apply them in daily life.
Visualization Techniques – To Visualize is Natural
The pursuit of success and fulfilled goals accompanies each of us throughout our whole life. We desperately search for feasible paths to someday achieve those “big” moments – our dreams. The good news is that if we dream of something, it means it is already born.
Natural activity – We feel and see it, because we have created its image in our mind – we have visualized it. Thus, visualization is the process of forming mental images based on something we hear, read or feel. In other words, it is a mental rehearsal of creating whatever we want to have or to do.
Benefits – Though visualization is most commonly a subconscious mental process, it can bring real benefits if practiced as deliberate, guided and mindful activity. The greatest asset of it is helping you to get prepared for desired scenarios, as well as psychologically setting your mind on future success and efficacy.
Consequently, no surprise, we need this skill and can certainly benefit from applying proven visualization techniques in diverse spheres of our lives: education, job, sport, health, etc. When describing his own process of visualization, Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney said:
“You’re trying to put yourself in that moment and trying to prepare yourself, to have a memory before the game”.
So, visualization helps to have something done in your mind before even starting.
1. A Step Ahead
Relax – A question naturally arises: how do we “put ourselves in that moment”? The shortest answer is: get prepared to visualize. No matter where and how, it’s important that you feel relaxed. You can stroll in your favorite park or street, sit comfortably in a beloved armchair, or lay down in your bed or on grass. Simply make sure nothing will distract you.
Choose desired goal – Start visualizing something you really desire to happen, for example, entering a university. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in the corridor of the university. At first, images will be limited to seeing yourself and perhaps a few people and objects around.
Expand – If you feel you are stuck, start creating the sounds, smells, and atmosphere around you: try to hear your classmates conversing about some topic, feel the smell of the books when you approach the bookshelves in the library, take the chalk and write down something on the blackboard, or taste some delicious sandwiches at the cafeteria.
Feel success – Moreover, dare to hear your professor praise you for a successful accomplishment. And there you are: a member of a large academic community! Studying hard is very crucial, but visualization will take you a step ahead of the exam, thus immensely reducing the anticipatory anxiety.
2. Rehearse Regularly
As a technique, visualization is acquired and refined through repetition. So, visualize regularly and remember to follow a pre-designed schedule.
Best time? – One of the best times for this meditative activity is before and after sleep when you are least likely to be interrupted. At first, it can take only 1-2 minutes, but it will last more as you practice. Ideally, keep a five-minute workout for each day and consider longer sessions for particularly important occasions.
Be consistent – Regularity is important because if you come back to the same mental image again and again, you’re able to dive into details. The more detailed is your visualization, the better: it is a key factor to reap benefits later on.
Exercise tip – To gain practice, try this simple exercise – visualize a person. Examine him deeply: his clothes and body posture, his face, hair, hands, fingers… Zoom in and zoom out to get a thorough picture of him. If you fail at the first trial, don’t get discouraged. Your mind needs practice and will soon be at ease to step into this exercise.
3. Build a Hierarchy
Another visualization technique and exercise is desensitization. It means you imagine yourself in a targeted situation over and over again, until you reduce or altogether fight the anxiety you feel about it.
What is it? – Note that you’d better build a certain hierarchy; that is, walk yourself slowly through the embarrassing steps, starting from the least depressive and moving to the most depressive ones. For example, if you feel frightened when speaking publicly, start with visualizing a speech in front of one friend in the presence of whom you feel most comfortable.
Expand technique – Then continue adding other people: your colleagues, relatives, your boss, etc. Afterwards, visualize them asking you awkward questions and answer them. Remember that if you are frightened to deliver a speech, then you can teach yourself not to be afraid of it!
4. Read with Images in your Mind
Benefits for reading – Visualization techniques have still a wider range of implication. They penetrate into the learning process, particularly facilitating our reading comprehension. By creating mental images while reading a text, we strengthen our comprehension and memorize more effectively. Learn how to speed read.
Exercise tip – So, visualization helps to turn various data into easily “digested” and memorable pieces of information. Get down to the following exercise: take short passages and try to visualize every single person, object, smell and atmosphere described.
Practicing tip – Practice independently or work in a group to find out similarities and differences in the images created in other people’s minds. You can also draw on a paper what you have read and create a picture-story. These small steps will lead you to building the habit of visualization whenever you read something.
Skills – Later on, holding a thick book with plain text, you will find yourself armed with the beneficial skill of reading with images in your mind.
5. Recreate Past for the Sake of Future
Visualize the good times – Though visualization usually refers to future occurrences, it also implies to mentally recreating a past performance or scenario as a source of inspiration or recovery. If you are suffering a pain or an illness, try to recall the times when you felt fit and sound.
Focus on specific scenes – Focus your mind on how you walked, run, talked, and laughed, free of any pain and full of energy. Recall people’s positive attitude; revive the scenes when there was no pity towards you. Intensify your concentration to the point when you feel no more pain. Thus, you mentally drive vital energy to every cell of your body, gain positive mindset and determination to bounce back easily.
Visualization Techniques – A Summary
Remember, your mind is the key to the destination you wish to reach. Arnold Schwarzenegger once said:
“The mind is really so incredible. Before I won my first Mr. Universe title, I walked around the tournament like I owned it. I had won it so many times in my mind, the title was already mine. Then when I moved on to the movies I used the same technique. I visualized daily being a successful actor and earning big money.”
This, surely, doesn’t happen overnight, but having determination and discipline as your best companions, you will undoubtedly open doors to success.
All in all, visualization, being a powerful mental activity, will boost your imagination, cultivate your sense of discipline, and provide a valuable tool for self-management. “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” With these words Abraham Lincoln prompts us that we have a wide range of possibilities to hold the future in our hands. Start creating that future in your mind and never forget to pursue its fulfillment in real life!
What other visualization techniques do you know and use? Please share them in the comment box below.